Actor Naseeruddin Shah spoke about Rajesh Khanna once more when he took centre stage at a masterclass organised by Neville Tuli of Osianama at the Liberty cinema in Mumbai.
And staying true to his inimitable opinionated self, Naseer spoke about Rajesh Khanna and regaled the audience consisting of actors and fans with tidbits about his life, acting career and even personal affairs.
The actor came in for wide criticism from artistes for calling the late super star a poor actor.’
Talking about India’s first superstar and how the industry created him and cast him away, Shah said, “The start of plagiarism in Hindi movies began in the early 70’s – the mediocrity in music, script writing, story telling, acting everything. Who were the popular stars of the 70’s apart from Mr. Khanna? Joy Mukherjee, Biswajeet Chatterjee. Does anybody remember these gentlemen? They were very big stars. There was also Jeetendra. The trinity of Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar was on the wane. The film industry needed a new icon and Rajesh Khanna filled that role. The fact is the industry created him, used him and cast him away when he was no longer a money-minting machine.”
When Tuli asked if that (use and throw) is the nature of the the industry, Shah said, “Had Mr. Khanna been more on his guard, he could have prevented this from happening.”
Speaking about the recent criticism about his comments on Rajesh Khanna he said: “Everybody who has got upset with what I said, none of them has contradicted what I said. They all said, ‘How can you say a thing like this. Have some respect for the dead.’ What respect did the film industry have for Rajesh Khanna when he was alive is my question. He had thousands of people outside his bungalow. Does that make him a great actor? So anybody who has thousands of people outside his bungalow is a great actor is that what you are trying to say.”
To this Tuli pointed out films like Anand, Aradhana and others where Khanna’s performance as an actor was much revered.
Naseer answered, “Certainly. I am not denying that. I am talking of his contribution by and large. I loved his performance in Anand and I loved his performance in Aradhana. These are the two films of his which I can certainly say I like without any reservations. I don’t think I liked any others.”
Shah said there was nothing wrong in expressing an opinion. “If you speak your mind, there is nothing wrong with it. I suppose one should be at times a little diplomatic that is what I have been told. But I don’t see the merit in that. I think one should say what one feels and if you have ended up offending somebody then that is just too bad.”
Speaking about the apology, the 67-year-old actor said, “I apologised to his family because I can understand their feelings. I have not apologised to anybody else nor have I withdrawn that statement.” – CINEWS